How Zac Posen's Brooks Brothers Gig Has Influenced His Own Line

Expect more daywear and less "va va voom."
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Dhani Mau
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Expect more daywear and less "va va voom."
Models at the spring 2016 Brooks Brothers presentation. Photo: Dan Lecca

Models at the spring 2016 Brooks Brothers presentation. Photo: Dan Lecca

You have to admit, Zac Posen's appointment as creative director of Brooks Brothers last year was kind of a head-scratcher. While Posen is a master at what he does — glamorous, show-stopping evening gowns, especially — it was difficult to imagine how he would translate his ultra-feminine, romantic aesthetic for a preppy, daywear-heavy American chain retailer like Brooks Brothers, which really hasn't evolved much aesthetically in the 200 years it's been in business.

Of course, Posen was hired for more than his design sensibility. A celebrity in his own right, the "Project Runway" judge has a knack for getting his designs on the backs of celebrities, something he's already accomplished at Brooks Brothers. "Uma Thurman carries a [Brooks Brothers] bag; Katie Holmes has a bag and a trench coat," he pointed out during a presentation of his debut Brooks Brothers collection above the brand's Madison Avenue store on Saturday.

Last June, Brooks Brothers Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Claudio Del Vecchio described the appointment as a "business decision," and Posen told us his task was "keeping the existing customer and introducing a new customer, globally." As for who that is, exactly: "There’s a younger customer that wants an effortless chic American look."

Posen totally nailed the aesthetic part of the equation, too. I wouldn't describe myself as a regular Brooks Brothers shopper (though I do love their pajamas, which look like they're from the '50s), but I found my self lusting after many of the colorful, Nantucket-inspired wares Posen cooked up for spring 2016. The brand's preppy Americana DNA was still very much there, but Posen updated it with new original prints and an easier fit, adding cool accessories like a woven handbag and patterned bucket hats.

As it turns out, Posen's namesake line, which shows on Monday, is going to look a little different this season, too. Namely, he'll be showing a lot less eveningwear — if any at all. "The experience of [designing for Brooks Brothers] has been greatly influential into how I built our fashion message for the upcoming [Zac Posen] runway show," he said. "It's going to have all the same attention to detail and technique, but with a new sense of ease, and lots of daywear. Elevated couture daywear."

Of course, he hasn't abandoned ball gowns entirely. "The va-voom dresses are there, but I don't need them on the runway, they're gonna be on the red carpet." Just consider the Emmys, taking place next weekend, an extension of Posen's runway show.

For now, see the full Brooks Brothers spring 2016 collection below.